Coming into the season, wide receiver Anthony Miller was looking forward to building off his impressive rookie year, but those plans hit a snag the first two weeks.
Mitch Trubisky targeted Miller once in each of the first two games, out of 72 passes, and he has one catch for two yards. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich thinks it’s too early to assume anything about Miller’s role.
“This is a great example of, early in the season, ‘Why isn’t so and so making more plays?’ ’’ Helfrich said Friday. “We need to make more plays, period. That’s on all of us. But the distribution of how that happens . . . I think that’ll all come. Anthony, from a mental standpoint in this last game, did a great job. He had a lot of reps and played well.”
Miller played 31 of 60 offensive snaps in the Bears’ 16-14 victory against the Broncos in Week 2. On the last play before the game-winning field goal, he drew double coverage down the middle. That was part of the reason why Allen Robinson got open underneath for a 25-yard completion, which set up Eddy Pineiro’s kick.
Robinson is typically Trubisky’s preferred receiver and has been targeted on 27.8 percent of his passes heading into the road game Monday night against the Redskins, followed by Tarik Cohen at 20.8 percent.
Miller was targeted on 10.7 percent of the Bears’ passes last season and had 33 receptions, 423 yards and seven touchdowns while playing through a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery.
Turning Pineiro loose
The Bears went into the season hesitant about letting Pineiro fire away from long distances until he proved himself. It seems that his 3-for-3 performance in Denver got him out of that probationary period.
He made kicks from 40, 52 and 53 yards to help the Bears take down the Broncos, and special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor revealed that they would’ve tried him from 60-plus yards on the last play based on having tested his range at halftime.
While score, time and other game factors are part of the equation, the Bears intend to be aggressive with Pineiro.
“He has that in him — there’s no doubt about it,” Tabor said. “We’ve done it a lot in practice; I have confidence in him doing that. Weather permitting, in field, with all those things, then we will always do that.”
Leg strength always has been Pineiro’s greatest attribute, while accuracy and technique have been works in progress. He kicked an 81-yard field goal in practice at the University of Florida and went 5-for-5 on field goals of 50-plus yards in games.
There was a brief worry about safety Eddie Jackson and right guard Kyle Long after they showed up as limited participants on the injury report Thursday, but coach Matt Nagy said neither injury is serious.
“They’re both fine,” Nagy said. “Nothing of concern. They’ll be OK.”
Jackson, who has a shoulder issue, was full-go in practice Friday. Long remained limited because of a hip injury.
Tight end Trey Burton has been limited this week as he continues to work back from a strained groin but is expected to play. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman returned to full participation after missing part of practice Thursday because of an injured oblique muscle.